Martha’s Vineyard has a variety of beach types, from boulders to gravel to soft sand.
Some of the most important beaches are called barrier beaches. • Formed by littoral currents (also called longshore currents). • Have water on both sides (pond or bay on one side, ocean on the other. • Three types: bay barriers, barrier spits, and barrier islands. Do you know the difference? • Very fragile beaches. • Always changing as the sand shifts. • Why are they called “barrier” beaches?
Barrier Beaches form saltwater ponds and bays, such as Tisbury Great Pond and Edgartown Great Pond.
WasqueA spectacular spot on the Vineyard. Norton Point and East Beach are visible in this picture. Can you name the bodies of water?
Another view of Wasque and East Beach.(Notice the four-wheel-drive vehicles.)
The opening at Tisbury Great Pond shows how the sand is constantly shifting. And that is why the opening periodically needs to be re-opened.
Here is the opening at James Pond in West Tisbury. It also shows how the sand can get carried into a pond through an opening.
Sand also gets carried offshore during winter storms to form sandbars. Hopefully, this sand is returned to the beach during the summer months.
Dogfish bar in Aquinnah.Famous for it’s offshore sandbars and, of course, the outstanding fishing. (Notice the thick underwater algae.)
In 2007, a powerful storm called the Patriot’s Day Storm cut right through the barrier beach known as Norton Point.
Another time, a small “cut” or breach, split through Cape Pogue and temporarily made a barrier island.
Notice how thin - and frail - the barrier beaches ofCape Pogue (Chappy) really are.
Our beaches are perhaps our most valuable, and fragile, resource. We are responsible for their welfare.